Photograph: João Paulo
© Turismo de Portugal

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Name of Monument:
Church of St. Francis, Oporto
Also known as:
Igreja Monumento de São Francisco, Oporto
Parish of St. Nicolau, Oporto, Portugal
13th–14th centuries (architecture); 17th–18th centuries (gilded carved decoration)
Denomination / Type of monument:
Religious architecture, church
Architectectural design: Francisco do Couto e Azevedo [n.d.]; sculptors: António Gomes [n.d.]; Filipe da Silva (active 1718–?); woodcarvers: Luís Pereira da Costa (active 1724–?), Manuel Carneiro Adão (active 1719–?), Manuel Pereira da Costa Noronha (active 1750–1751), Manuel da Costa Andrade (active 1740–1743), Francisco Pereira Campanhã (active 1764–?)
Order of St. Francis, the third order of the St. Francis Brotherhood from Oporto
Installation of the altarpieces and the carving in general began in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 18th. The presence of several period altarpieces and carving, mostly of the Baroque style from the first half of the 18th-century culminate in a harmonious visual impact. This variety was caused by an increase of orders because Oporto had a vibrant and wealthy bourgeoisie, organized in several brotherhoods, willing to finance art works in this period. The Church of St Francis stands nowadays as a museum of northern carving. In the 19th century with the extinction of the religious orders and after a violent fire in 1833, right after the siege of Oporto, the convent started to decline, was burnt down and the church was used for instance as a Customs warehouse. The Church of St. Francis was classified as a National Monument in 1910, being now part of the Historic Centre of Oporto. It became an Unesco World Heritage in 1996 .
A Gothic mendicant church with three aisles, covered with gilded carving and Baroque imagery. In the main body of the church the gradual installation of various altars and retables culminate in blanketing it entirely and changing it completely, giving it a totally Baroque décor. The carving and gilding awaken the senses; not even the ceiling veins can be seen as they are covered by rich carved ornamentation. This is due in part to a well-known characteristically Baroque programmatic principle: if the outside of the building corresponds to the body, the inside is the expression of the soul enriched by God's gifts.
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How Monument was dated:
Historical Evidence and stylistic analysis


Special features

Retable of the Jesse Tree



Carving: António Gomes [n.d.]; Filipe da Silva (active 1718–?); sculpture: Manuel Carneiro Adão (active 1719–?)

A staging of Christ and the Virgin Mary's genealogy in polychrome wood. On the base, the figure of Jesse from which stems a trunk – Christ's genealogy – with the most ancient ancestors of the Holy Family among whom are King David and King Solomon.
Retable of St. Anthony Chapel



Luis Pereira da Costa

Example of King João V style woodcarving.
Retable of Nossa Senhora do Socorro



Architectectural design: Francisco do Couto e Azevedo [n.d.]; carver: Manuel da Costa Andrade (active 1740–1743)

Example of King João V style.
Retable of Moroccan Saints and Martyrs



Manuel Pereira da Costa Noronha (active 1750–1751)

Example of the late King João V style.
Retable of Nossa Senhora da Soledade



Francisco Pereira Campanhã (active1764–?)

Wood carved retable in the Rocaille style.
  Selected bibliography:
Smith, R. C., A talha em Portugal, Lisbon, 1963.
Chicó, M. T., A Arquitectura Gótica em Portugal, Lisbon, 1981.
Borges, N. C., História da Arte em Portugal. Do barroco ao rococó, vol. 9, Lisbon, 1987.
Alves, N. M. F., “De arquitecto a entalhador. Itinerário de um artista nos séculos XVII e XVIII”, Actas do I Congresso Internacional do Barroco, Vol. 1, Porto, 1991, pp. 355–369.
Dias, P., A Arquitectura Gótica Portuguesa, Lisbon, 1994.
Quaresma, M. C. De carvalho, Inventário Artístico de Portugal, Cidade do Porto, Lisbon, 1995.
Citation of this web page:
Paulo Pereira "Church of St. Francis, Oporto" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2016.;BAR;pt;Mon11;23;en
Prepared by: Paulo Pereira
Translation by: Vanda Meneses , Manuela Alcobia
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PT 23